Should gig workers choose flexibility or protections?
A European Union proposal that was introduced last week promises to elevate the debate about whether and how to grant more employment rights to workers in the gig economy.
Under the EU rules, which need approval by the European Parliament, a business platform that meets at least two criteria will be deemed an “employer.” Individuals working for that company will be reclassified as “workers” with rights to a minimum wage, pensions and basic benefits. Companies will have to disclose how their software systems make worker decisions.
“With more and more jobs created by digital labor platforms, we need to ensure decent working conditions for all those deriving their income from such work,” said EU EVP Margrethe Vestager in a statement.
Companies such as Uber and Deliveroo contend that the reclassification would raise costs for consumers and cause job losses as hiring full-time staff will ultimately result in fewer drivers working longer hours.
Uber said in a statement, “Any EU-wide rules should allow drivers and couriers to retain the flexibility we know they value most, while allowing platforms to introduce more protections and benefits.”
According to The New York Times, gig companies prefer the path of countries such as France and Italy, where unions are negotiating guarantees.
Pew Research Center’s just-released “The State Of Gig Work In 2021” study found 78 percent of U.S. gig workers being at least “somewhat positive” with their job experiences, including 24 percent being “very positive.”
A majority in the survey agreed gig platforms have been very or somewhat fair when it comes to how their jobs are assigned (72 percent) and with their pay (64 percent), with the views split on benefits (50 percent). The less-desirable job parts were seen as rudeness, safety threats and sexual harassment.
A McKinsey survey of 25,000 Americans taken this past spring, however, found that 62 percent of contract, freelance and temporary workers would prefer permanent employment. McKinsey found the findings not unsurprising given that such workers were more likely to say that they had suffered decreased income over the past 12 months and nearly twice as likely than others to say they could not afford health insurance.
- Commission proposals to improve the working conditions of people working through digital labour platforms – European Commission
- Uber Workers Would Be Classed as Employees Under EU Proposal – The Wall Street Journal
- EU plan to boost gig economy workers is latest blow to apps – The Associated Press
- Europe Pushes New Rules Turning Gig Workers Into Employees – The New York Times
- The State of Gig Work in 2021 – Pew Research Center
- Being the Boss: Gig Workers’ Value of Flexible Work – Harvard Business School
- Most executives say they want more contract and temp workers. A majority of those workers say that’s not good enough.ep – Business Insider
- New Survey Finds Gig Workers Lack Financial Stability, Want Faster Pay – Everee/Business Wire
- Survey: Half of gig workers say they want to unionize – HRmorning
- Ten insights on the state of economic opportunity – McKinsey
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is the ideal labor structure for gig workers permanent employment, contract employment, contract employment with unionization or something else? Would the touted benefits of flexibility and a sense of being one’s own boss from gig work likely be lost with a shift to permanent employment?